Back to the land of the living!

Hola, mes amis! (there’s a mix of languages!)

Here I am, generally feeling OK. And so I thought I should sign in to let you know how things are going. I’ll do an update on 40 Acts another time; today is just me. (How< self centred!!)

So on Tuesday I went to see a magnetiseur – the nearest translation I could find was hypnotherapist. But he didn’t really hypnotise me. He placed his hand on my stomach, my intestines, my throat: the idea being that these are the areas that would be worse affected by chemo, with nausea, stomach upsets etc. He then asked which side my “front door” was being fitted. I didn’t know but assumed it was the opposite side to the scars (I was in fact wrong) and he “drew” shapes on my upper chest with his fingers and blew on me. Bizarre. Well, I don’t know if what he did had any effect, but I have suffered from hardly any side effects. The “front door” has been a bit of a nuisance, as it is uncomfortable in bed, so maybe it would have been better if he’d blown on that side!!

Wednesday was the fitting of the “front door” (this is the permanent chamber fitted so that the chemo can be easily pumped into my blood stream) My appointment was at 7.00 so we had to get up at 5.30 (Yawn) Mr FD came with me, then, when I was being operated on, went & did the shopping. It was done under local so there was no waiting around afterwards and I was home by lunchtime. I dozed in the afternoon, mostly because I’d been up so early!!

On Thursday it was C-day. The day for my first chemo. I’d slept reasonably well the night before, & the taxi-ambulance picked me up at 8.00.There was a nerve wracking wait, as Dr Vincent (chemotherapist) was behind. But once he’d checked my ECG, my blood test and everything else I was cleared for commencement. Everybody – nurses, ancillary staff, other patients – were lovely and the day went quite quickly. I had a lunch of salad and meat, and chatted to a lovely lady who is an English/French/maths teacher called Charlotte. I was given a “soins des mains” – not exactly a manicure, but a gentle hand massage and dead skin removal. Mr FD popped in and we had a cup of tea together before he went for his interview…then at 4.00 my ambulance-taxi took me home. Whereupon I was like a zombie!!

I should have gone straight to bed, but I stayed up, lolling and sleeping on the sofa. Next time will be different! Then on Friday & Saturday I stayed in bed all day, mostly sleeping and listening to the radio, because my eyes didn’t want to be open! Mr FD looked after me beautifully, with just enough tempting morsels for me to eat. I felt no nausea, very slight stomach pains and that’s all! I got up on Saturday evening for a while. My biggest problem has been a bad back from staying in bed too long!!

Sunday I was out of bed and awake for most of the day – just lolling in a chair, listening to music, flicking through a magazine, watching TV – and then yesterday I got dressed too! We went across the road to see friends for about an hour – I wore a mask and gloves to avoid infection, especially as Monique has a cold. I’m still snoozing in the afternoon & actually, today, (at 11.10 CET) I feel very sleepy. But generally, this session of chemo has only affected me with tiredness. I know that others may be different, but I thank God (and the Magnetiseur!) for the relative ease of this. Mr FD has been a real star, keeping everywhere clean, clearing up after cats, encouraging me to eat, helping me do stuff I can’t manage alone.

The good news is that both my oncoloist and mt chemotherapist were perfectly positive about me going to Manchester next weekend AS LONG AS I take sensible precautions

  • wear a mask in crowds at all times
  • take my temperature regularly & if I have a fever go to A&E immediately (hmmm, with the NHS in crisis that could be tricky)
  • do not kiss or shake hands with anyone
  • wear gloves at all times
  • keep scrupulously clean – wash hands regularly (even when wearing gloves)
  • rest, rest, rest
  • listen to what my body is saying & don’t push it.

SO, hopefully, I will be going to the UK after all! Mr FD has booked us into the nearest carpark to the airport terminal, has investigated wheelchairs at the airport (as budget airlines are always furthest away!), reserveda car, and booked a hotel room less than a kilometre from the venue for Elbow. Fingers crossed that I can manage…and that I will be sensible enough to say “I can’t manage” if that is indeed the case.

Thank you to everyone for their prayers, good wishes, comments and gifts. They have been truly appreciated.

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2018 40 Acts :: 6 :: Chocolate Tuesday

Hello dear ones.

I hope all is well in your world. We had a lovely meal out with Louis and Odette yesterday: I’m rather lucky, as Mr FD does quite a lot of sorting-out-of-other-peoples’-computers, and sometimes, instead of paying him in cash, they reimburse in kind, as it were. So last night Louis & Odette took us out, Traudel -who co-owns a restaurant with her Michelin starred husband – owes us a meal, the hotel round the corner also says that we can have a meal there…Thank you Mr FD!

So, last night I had feuilleté des escargots (snails in a lovely buttery sauce, in puff pastry), followed by magret de canard au miel et figues (duck breast with honey and figs). Then I had fromage frais, instead of ordinary cheese, then finally pannacotta with a raspberry coulis. Very delicious, and lovely to be out with good friends.

And now, it’s Chocolate Tuesday on 40 Acts.

Lots of people in the 40 Acts community seem to love “Chocolate Tuesday”, but I’ve never really taken to it. Maybe because I’d be a bit suspicious if I discovered random chocolate bars left on trains or park benches…There’s also the language barrier, trying to explain what I’m doing. Michelle left a comment saying: I’ve gotten the impression in reading about your 40 Acts over the years that the French are befuddled by “random acts of kindness.” Is a correction assumption? Is it totally absent from their culture or thinking?

To be honest, I don’t know! It could simply be that I am very poor at explaining what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it; also, I’m very shy about approaching strangers anyway, which makes it harder. Certainly when I look up gestes de bonté spontanés on Google,there’s nothing dated later than 2015 so maybe this isn’t a “thing” in France.

Anyway…

Giving away chocolate. Maybe it sounds a bit less radical than the last few days. But small, overlooked acts of generosity achieve big things. Today, take a bunch of chocolate bars with you wherever you go – five, ten, or twenty – and fling them, carefree, to anyone you come across.

Green, Amber, Red: You know the drill. Chocolate everywhere.

I have to go to the chemist today, to fetch my drugs for after chemo, so I will take them some chocolate. And I’m going to make some healthy meusli bars for me & Mr FD, full of dried fruit and seeds. I’ll make a few extra, and take them to the Hypnotherapist man this afternoon. A sort of thank you, as I get the feeling it was a bit inconvenient fitting me in today. Whether I’ll be able to explain why this strange Englishwoman is bringing him meusli bars I don’t know.

So, here in St Just, it’s not Chocolate Tuesday. It’s

Healthy Meusli Bar Tuesday!

2018 40 Acts :: 5 :: FAVOURITE

Hello dear ones!

So Week of Chemo commences! I am getting apprehensive, and my stress-related IBS has started to kick in, but other than that I’m fine. I went to see my friend Claire, who is the local district nurse, and she talked me through stuff. We made appointments for my weekly blood tests and generally helped me feel organised. She also persuaded me to go to see a magnétiseur – I’m not sure what the exact translation is, but I think it’s hypnotherapist. This man apparently has very good results at reducing side effects of chemo with his patients, so I’m hoping to make an appointment with him today. I don’t know how convinced I am, so maybe if I go as a sceptic it might not work, but quite honestly, I’m willing to give it a go!

I’ve booked my taxi/ambulance to take me to the hospital – Mr FD can’t take me as he has an interview for a job! It’s not really what he wanted, I don’t think (there was a job he applied for at the hospital that he quite fancied, but he’s not heard anything from them) but beggars can’t be choosers. Especially when it’s a CDI! He will however come in to see me when his interview is over. I need to make sure I’ve got a couple of podcasts downloaded onto my phone – I’ve purposely not listened to the last couple of Kermode & Mayo film reviews – plus a good book and some music. That should keep me occupied.

Anyway, let’s get on with 40 Acts:

FAVOURITE

You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God.”
(2 Corinthians 9:11–12 NET)

favourite flavor

The prompt reads:

What are your favourite things? Favourite film? Favourite coffee shop? A view where you go to be alone? Get ready to fly in the face of your impulses – and give those personal favourites away. Give away the novel. Pass on the scarf you think someone would look fantastic in. Share the introvert hang-out spot.

GREEN: Share a favourite. Think of a favourite book, film, piece of music, or recipe. It might seem small, but sharing your own enthusiasm is part of the fun.

AMBER: Share an experience. Think of a favourite walk, bike ride, or local hangout. Take a recipe you’ve loved cooking for years, and make it for someone else.

RED: Share sacrificially. Share a favourite restaurant, or tickets to your favourite artist/show/sports team with someone. Push past expectations and pick up the bill.

On a day when I’m not going anywhere (except we are being taken out for dinner) I’m not sure how to do this, except…except…there’s a niggly little voice (Hello, God)

You may remember (or not…) that I gave this book a rave review

You can read more about it here

I will send a copy to someone who comments on this page…If you’d like it, leave a comment and I will draw one of the names and organise a copy to be delivered to you. I’ll contact you in about a week if you’re the winner to get your address.

There you go! A favourite book, recommended and promised to someone.

JUST ADDING: It’s no good just “liking” the page. If you vwant to be entered into the Giveaway, I would like you to actually comment

You are my sunshine…

Ooh, look at me! I’ve been nominated for a “Sunshine Blogger” award, by Chomeuse with a Chou

Why, Thank you, Chomeuse!

The Sunshine Blogger award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivety and creativity in the blogging community.

RULES

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in your blog post and link back to the blog.

2. Answer 11 questions that the Blogger asked you.

3. Nominate 11 new bloggers to receive the awards and write them 11 questions.

4. List the rules and display the Sunshine blogger award logo in your post on your blog.

So, I’ve thanked Chomeuse, and I have linked to her blog. I have listed the rules and displayed the logo. Here are Chomeuse’s 11 questions and my (not very interesting) answers

  1. Why did you start your blog? I can’t really remember! It was way back in 2009, and I think I decided that I needed to try and use technology a bit more. I enjoy writing, so a blog seemed like a good idea. I had another one called Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner  where for quite some time I wrote my weekly menu plans andtried to be accountable for weight loss. It didn’t work.
  2. What are your favourite things to do (when you aren’t blogging, of course)? I enjoy reading, and zentangling too                        

We live in a beautiful part of the world, so while I don’t walk far or fast, I do enjoy a stroll. Drinking wine and eating with friends coimes high on the agenda too. And I’m lucky enough to love my work as an EFL teacher.

  1. If you could only visit one place, where would you go? I really don’t know! I suppose I should say the UK, as my family and friends are there!
  2. Do you have a favourite post from your blog? No, not really. Certain ones are poignant, remembering friends/cats who have died, others remind me of holidays, but none are a “favourite” really.
  3. What is your favourite book? (If it is far too difficult to choose, who is your favourite author?) Even choosing a favourite author is too hard! Among my favouritte authors are Philippa Gregory, Patrick Gale, Elizabeth George, Peter Robinson.
  4. What are your goals for your blog? Er…I don’t really have any! I’m a teeny bit envious of those bloggers who are sent things to review (freebies!), but I think what I enjoy most is making contact with people from across the world. So many people have been so genereous recently, over my cancer, that I have felt a little humbled. I’d love to meet some of these people some time!
  5. Which three possessions would you grab in the event of fire? I refuse to answer that because we have 4 cats. Therefore one of them will get rather anxious about being the one left behind!
  6. Do you live in the town or country where you were born? Neither the town (Liverpool) nor the country!
  7. Do you have any unusual phobias? I’m not sure it’s a phobia, per se, but grubby little scraps of paper make me retch, and I struggle to peel off the residue that stickers have left behind. I’m not afraid of them. They just make me feel queasy.
  8. Do you speak another language? Well, I can get by in French, but I don’t speak it well.
  9. If you could chat to any person in history (real or literary) who would you choose? I was going to say Jesus, but actually I suspect he might make me feel a bit uncomfortable, and ask some awkward questions! I’d like to speak to Judas Iscariot – I have never seen him as the “bad guy” and would really like to discuss his reasons for betraying Christ. I suspect that, for him, there was a good reason for doing it…Maybe he didn’t see it as betrayal, maybe he didn’t mean it to end how it did. Maybe he was as shocked as everyone else…But I don’t doubt that he will be in Heaven!

Somehow the numbering system went wrong, but honestly, I’ve answered all 11 questions.

Thinking of 11 other questions is hard, but I’ll give it a go:

  1. What is your most embarrassing/long abiding memory from childhood?
  2. What was the name of your first pet? What animal was it? Was there a reason for calling it that? (does that count as 3 questions?!)
  3. What did you detest at school?
  4. Who was your major “crush” when younger? (Or maybe now!)
  5. Is there a food that you hated when younger, but like now? Do you have a recipe to share?
  6. If you had to give up either your computer or your TV which would it be? Why?
  7. Share a favourite song/ band with us. (OK, so it’s not a question, but still…)
  8. Where did you spend a memorable holiday? Why was it so memorable?
  9. Where would you like to live, if it could be anywhere in the world?
  10. Do you enjoy poetry? Why/why not? Can you share a favourite poem with us?
  11. Do you have a quotation that you find particularly inspiring? Can you share it?

As for naming 11 other bloggers, that’s even harder, as several that I read don’t take part in things like this. However, here is a list of 11 blogs I enjoy reading, and maybe they’ll join in. If they don’t, I encourage you to visit them anyway, as they are a goo

  1. Ariel at “A Blog of Hours”
  2. Bob & Sophie at “Bob & Sophie’s French Adventure
  3. Amanda at “Chez le Reve Français
  4. All the cats and woofies at “Daily Feline Wisdom
  5. Kezzie at “KezzieAG
  6. Notes from A Broad” – I know this lady’s name, but I just can’t remember it!!
  7. Pompom at “PomPom’s Ponderings
  8. Fishcake Random at “The Frugal Handmade Home
  9. Ang at “Tracing Rainbows
  10. Michelle at “Boulderneigh
  11. Ilona at “Life After Money
  12. And a bonus one: Lou over at “The New Mrs M

These are not the only blogs I enjoy, but some have been nominated by Chomeuse already, and I had to choose just 11. These are a mix of content and so some might appeal more than others, but I urge you to visit any that are unfamiliar to you, so you can see if you like them too!

Of course, if you are reading this and would like to try answering my questions anyway, then please go ahead and do so! Please leave a comment though so I can visit you and read your answers!

Book Review: A Year of Marvellous Ways *****

This wasn’t sent free by Netgalley. I paid for this one on Amazon.

I’d read good reviews of this book, so decided to buy it. I’m very glad I did.

The blurb on Amazon reads: Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and has lived alone in a remote Cornish creek for nearly all her life. Lately she’s taken to spending her days sitting on a mooring stone by the river with a telescope. She’s waiting for something – she’s not sure what, but she’ll know it when she sees it. Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the Second World War. When his promise to fulfil a dying man’s last wish sees him wash up in Marvellous’ creek, broken in body and spirit, the old woman comes to his aid. A Year of Marvellous Ways is a glorious, life-affirming story about the magic in everyday life and the pull of the sea, the healing powers of storytelling and sloe gin, love and death and how we carry on when grief comes snapping at our heels.

I think as a summary of the book, it’s good. What it doesn’t give you is any idea of the  poetry of the writing. It is truly beautiful. Every other page I would pause to roll a phrase, a sentence, sometimes a whole paragraph round in my mouth, saying the words aloud for the sheer pleasure of hearing them. Perhaps I noticed this because I was reading this straight after the rather pedestrian writing of “The Phantom’s Apprentice” but I loved this book for the author’s skill at manipulating language. Perhaps it was slightly too whimsical/ magical from time to time, but this didn’t detract from the beauty of the writing.

One thing I found a little difficult was the lack of speech marks, which meant that, at times, I wasn’t sure who was speaking, or if it was narrative, rather than dialogue. However, after a while, I became more accustomed to the style.

I would definitely recommend this book, giving it a solid five stars. *****

2018 40 Acts :: 4 :: After You

Hello Dear Ones

I hope all is well with you. I am coming to terms with the fact that I won’t be going to the UK – thank you for your sympathetic messages – but I haven’t quite come to terms with everything else around my treatment yet. This morning I went to the chemist to collect all the drugs. It is a carrier bag full! I’m going to spend some time today putting them in bags, and labelling each bag, in different colours. These are for nausea, these are for mouth ulcers…etc etc. I think by doing this, I’m taking charge, and not letting everything overwhelm me. But it is still a bit scary…

Anyway…

Yesterday’s challenge changed its form – I had considered leaving some euros at the coffee shop counter at the hospital, but I was worried about how to explain in French what I was doing. So finally, as I had to stop off to buy cat litter on the way to the hospital, I picked up two boxes of reduced stock chocolates, at a bargain price. I gave one to the woman at the admissions desk. In France, before going to one’s appointment, you have to go through the admissions process, where they check your details and give you any papers that you need. There are about 6 counters, and they process you fairly quickly, but I imagine it’s not a very exciting job. So when I was explaining to the young woman who was dealing with me what I was doing “Um…c’est pour Careme…Vous connaissez Careme?…J’essaie de faire des actions…um…de gentillesse…Um…Ici…j’ai acheté des chocolats pour vous et vos collegues…pour partager…Um…” She was a bit taken aback, but pleased nonetheless, as was her colleague who quickly wheeled her chair out of her cubicle to see what was going on (obviously needed a chocolate fix!)

After my ECG (they found I had a heart!) I dropped the other box off at the Receptionist desk – this is where people go if they have questions about where to go, and there’s usually a couple of elderly-ish volunteers hanging around to take you to the right department – The woman there was also rather touched too. In fact there was a moment or two’s open-mouthed staring before she said thank you.

I also continued my programme of leaving Ninja notes in various places – so the Cardio dept waiting room and toilet got hit, as did the lift, and another toilet area. They’ll know who’s doing this by tracking the appointments – Who was in cardio today, but in the oncology department yesterday?!

So, on to today.

Putting ourselves first comes incredibly easy to our culture – just think about a group of strangers jostling to get on a train. Today, we’re taking a firm 180 on that me-first tendency, and finding a couple of practical ways to put others first. Expect surprising results.

GREEN: Whether you live in a bustling city or somewhere more low-key, take the time to say ‘Good morning!’ to people you meet today, letting them go first through the door, or in the queue.

AMBER: At home or work, do someone’s chores before they do. Put them first by getting there first.

RED: Are you in a situation where your desires clash with someone else’s? Prioritise their wishes above your wishes, even (especially!) if they aren’t in line with yours. Budge on the stubbornness. Make the sacrifice.

You can read the full meditation (which I really liked) here

Well, here in France a cheery “Bonjour messiuers-dames” when you go in a shop is almost obligatory, but I did my best, on this dreary wet morning, to be extra jovial in the boulangerie today. Green challenge “Tick. V.G.”

But the Amber challenge made me squirm a little. You see, I have been rather milking this cancer business. I know that I can’t do lifting with my right arm – so ironing, lifting shopping, moving cat litter trays are all things I can’t do, and have to leave to Mr FD, who has done all these things without complaint. I know that once chemo starts, and my immune system is shot, I certainly can’t be touching cat litter, or doing dirty jobs. I know that when I’m feeling fatigued there’ll be lots I can’t do.

But at the moment…well, I have rather been leaving jobs that I could do, knowing that Mr FD is being so good with doing stuff around the house, and thinking “Well, I’m sure he will do them eventually…” Cleaning the bathroom being one of those jobs. No heavy lifting required, my immune system is fine: there’s actually no reason why I shouldn’t do it. So today, I will heave on my Big Girl Pants and clean the bathroom so that Mr FD doesn’t have to do it.

As for the Red challenge – well, I think that one needs to be an on-going one. There’s nothing really at the moment that springs to mind, but it may be that God is storing this one up for me. As he does.

2018 40 Acts :: 3 :: DEAL (& Disappontment)

Hello dear ones!

Yesterday’s meeting with my designated nurse, Sonia, was more than a little overwhelming! So much information that it requires a large folder to contain it all – which will be great for my teaching notes when all this is over! – including myriad prescriptions, information, and things to make me panic. Everything seems so complicated at the moment, with blood tests being needed every week, and injections and loads of other stuff that needs organising. I need to sit down with the folder and a calendar and write down what drugs need taking when…These are necessary, these are if this happens, these are if that happens…

The biggest disappointment is that it is looking unlikely that I’ll be able to go to the UK when we had planned. Before all this kicked off, we’d booked to go to Manchester & Liverpool, to see my mum, and we had tickets to see Bill Bailey on Saturday evening, and Elbow on Sunday evening. With the date of the chemo we thought I’d be recovered enough from nausea etc to get to the UK. However, Sonia erxplained that, although the physical symptoms of nausea might be better, a week after the chemo session is when one’s immunity is at its lowest, so going on an aeroplane, with all its recycled air, then going to places where there are crowds of people, all with their own particular microbes really might not be the best idea. We’ll check with the doctor on Thursday, before my first session, but it looks like Mr FD will be going by himself. My brother is also going to Bill Bailey, and we hope that we can find someone else who would like to go, both to the comedy and to the Elbow concert. Ah well.

ANYWAY: I managed to leave a few Ninja Notes around the hospital, (and the supermarket, as we went shopping too) and as I’m back there today, I’ll leave some more.

Here is today’s challenge:

DEAL

Any deal you come across today – go ahead and hand it to someone else. We’re not just talking old BOGOF-type deals: even if it’s just a bottled drink with 25% extra, go and give the whole bottle away. Whatever’s freely given to you, share it with someone else. It’s just a picture showing that everything God’s given you is yours to give on.

GREEN: If money’s tight, check around the house. Got two copies of the same book? Chairs you don’t need? Some extra biscuits? Upload a pic to your social networks and offer to give it away (and throw in the hashtag #40acts).

AMBER: Got a loyalty card? Give your carefully collected points away to someone else. Or use them to buy someone something nice to give away. (If I’d known, I could have used my Yves Rocher loyalty points, but I used them up yesterday!)

RED: Boost a local business. Put some cash behind the till at your local coffee shop or café.

Here’s the full meditation

I’m not sure about how I will carry this out – Money is a bit tight here in Dormouse Towers, but I think I can run to spending something…Maybe I will give 10€ to the hospital coffee shop to pay for some people’s coffee…I fear I will struggle to explain what I’m doing to the person behind the counter, and that they may think I am a bit odd, but I can try. I suppose I start to get a bit suspicious that the person behind the counter might pocket the 10€ for themselves, which isn’t very trusting of me, but I guess that, if they do that, then they need the money. If I pray that God will bless the recipient, then he will do so – whether they have received by fair means or foul!

Part of the meditation reads:

Something special happens when we are generous with what we’re given. Being irredeemably Anglican, my friend calls generous gifts, large or small, “sacraments of the heart”.

We both agreed that there is something compelling and transformative about such generosity. Like the young boy who entrusted his bread and fish to Jesus: what else was shared, what else happened in heart and hand that day? In that wonderful story we are told that Jesus took, blessed, broke and gave bread to his disciples – and they in turn gave to a hungry people what they had received. What was given to them.

So, if my suspicious thoughts turn out to be true, maybe still there will be something “transformative” about what I do.